NEFAR president embraces challenges of real estate sales

Missi Howell didn’t see herself becoming an agent during her real estate banking career.

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  • | 5:20 a.m. May 4, 2021
Northeast Florida Association of Realtors President Missi Howell.
Northeast Florida Association of Realtors President Missi Howell.
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In her 30-year real estate banking career, Northeast Florida Association of Realtors President Missi Howell said she didn’t see herself becoming an agent.

But when she retired from banking, she “wasn’t really ready” to stop working entirely.

“I wasn’t going to throw away 30 years of accumulated real estate knowledge,” Howell said. She retired as a vice president in consumer real estate at Bank of America.

In 2007, she received her real estate license and has been active since.

NEFAR was responsible for much of her training as an agent, and from there she became more involved with the organization. She joined the NEFAR board of directors in 2017 and this year, she became president. 

“I don’t think you wake up one day and say I’m going to be the president of NEFAR,” she said. 

When her children were grown and Howell was not volunteering with their schools or sports teams, she sought another outlet, which was NEFAR. 

“The more I was involved, the more I wanted to be involved and the more I started seeing that I wanted to make a difference for our members,” Howell said. 

As president, Howell said she wants to provide more professionalism classes for members and increase the organization’s involvement in the community. 

“There are a lot of things a 10,000-member organization can do to support community efforts,” she said.

NEFAR comprises 10,000 Realtors and business partners in Duval, St. Johns, Clay and Putnam counties.

Starting her career in real estate sales at the onset of the Great Recession was not easy, but she was able to be successful, she said.

“It is a challenging business. I didn’t realize how challenging it was until I actually started doing it,” she said. 

“Public perception is that all Realtors do is put a sign in the yard and a lockbox in the house and then they make millions. That is not the case at all. If you don’t close on a house, you don’t get paid.”

In today’s low-inventory market, real estate agents are again finding challenging conditions in the industry. Howell said getting listings is tough with so few properties on the market. 

“If you go into a grocery store and there are no groceries on the shelf, that grocer isn’t going to make any money,” she said. 

“They’re not going to stay in business very long. This is the big challenge for agents is to secure those listings to have an inventory to sell.”

Sifting through multiple offers on homes for their clients is requiring more time and analytical skills.

“This is the reality of being in real estate today,” Howell said. 

“A good agent is going to put all the parameters of those offers into a spreadsheet and present those offers in person with the seller. Having a Realtor there to consult with and make sense of these offers for the seller is paramount in trying to figure out which deal is best.”

Despite challenging conditions in the industry, Howell said she still is passionate about her work. Helping her youngest son purchase a home was the proudest moment of her career, she said. 

Her other career highlights focus on the people she’s helped find a home, whether it was their first or their last. 

“It’s always about the people,” she said. 

“The house is important, it’s shelter, but it’s about the lives that go into those homes. That’s what’s special.”